Alvi’s speech marred by raucous opp protest

Media restrained from covering proceedings of session, entrance gate of press gallery kept closed


Our Correspondent September 14, 2021
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto protesting inside the Parliament. PHOTO: Twitter/Shazia Atta Marri

ISLAMABAD:

The opposition on Monday lodged a loud protest during President Arif Alvi’s annual address to the joint sitting of parliament, with several happenings witnessed for the first time in the country’s parliamentary history such as the media being stopped from coverage of proceedings and the closure of the main gate of the House.

The president’s address marked the start of the fourth year of the parliamentary year of the National Assembly.

As Alvi started his address, the opposition members encircled the dais holding banners and started raising slogans against the government and the prime minister. The opposition banners read: “Attack on free press unacceptable, stop economic murder of people, martial law on media and PMDA rejected.”

Read Alvi hints at conditional amnesty for TTP members

It was witnessed for the first time that the media was restrained from covering the proceedings of the House and the entrance gate of the press gallery was kept closed. The journalists, then, staged a sit-in at gate no1 of the House.

It was also seen for the first time that the main gate of parliament was kept closed during the president’s address and the way leading to the prime minister’s house was used for the arrival of MPs and guests.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had reached the Parliament 10 minutes before the start of the session. On his arrival, the treasury members accorded the premier a warm welcome by thumping their desks. Later, the opposition members staged a walkout from the House during the president’s address.

The session held under the chairmanship of NA Speaker Asad Qaiser was attended by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, all provincial chief ministers and governors, services chiefs, AJK President Barrister Sultan Mahmood, G-B Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon, G-B Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid and ambassadors of foreign countries.

Also read ‘No compromise on sovereignty,’ vow President Alvi and PM Imran

It was reported that the government had issued a limited number of press cards due to which several journalists could not enter the Parliament House.

Speaking on the occasion, the PRA representative maintained that the government had not issued press gallery cards to the journalists who cover parliament’s proceedings and instead had given them to other people.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman observed that for the first time in the history of the country, parliament’s press gallery was closed for the media persons. She condemned the act asking what fears the “destructive government” had from journalists and pointed out that the “press gallery was not closed even during the rule of dictators”.

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